The Canadian healthcare system offers residents and work permit holders access to high-quality and publicly-funded healthcare, which is managed on a provincial level. 

Expats with permanent residency in Vancouver qualify for this scheme, called the British Columbia Medical Service Plan (MSP), and should submit their paperwork to sign up for it as soon as possible. The MSP allows free access to specialists, general practitioners and all necessary surgeries.

Getting public health insurance in Vancouver

Expats moving to Vancouver can apply for the MSP in person, online or by mail using their permit, proof of identification and address. There is a three-month waiting period between application and when coverage begins, and during this time it’s crucial that expats take out personal or employer-sponsored private health insurance. Expats will become eligible to use the MSP once they receive their CareCard with their Personal Health Number. 

The MSP provides limited coverage for emergencies outside British Columbia, and members are fully liable for the costs of medical procedures and prescriptions obtained outside the province. Expats who don’t qualify for the state-sponsored health insurance plan and those travelling outside British Columbia should be sure to secure private health insurance for the duration of their stay. 

Expats should note that the MSP does not cover dental, eye care, prescription medicines or extended health services, such as ambulances. It is therefore necessary to maintain private coverage, which is usually employer-sponsored.

Hospitals in Vancouver

St Paul’s Hospital

Address: 1081 Burrard Street Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1Y6

BC Children’s Hospital

Address: 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3N1

BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre

Address: 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3N1

Mount Saint Joseph’s Hospital

Address: 3080 Prince Edward Street, Vancouver, BC, V5T 3N4